Dickie Arbiter on skint upbringings and working for the late Queen. Genteel Dickie Arbiter, 83, had a turbulent childhood in London before finding his calling in the media in the 1970s, first in Rhodesia and then at LBC. He became a royal correspondent in 1981 for Independent Radio News (IRN) before joining the Buckingham Palace press office in 1988 as secretary to The Queen, Prince Charles and Diana.

He retired from the role in 2000 and is now a regular commentator on TV, as well as giving talks on his experiences. Married twice, he lives in London and has an adult daughter Victoria, who’s a royal expert in the US. How did your childhood influence your attitude towards money? I was born at the height of the Blitz in 1940, mum left when I was 3, so it was just Dad and I.

But then he died from tuberculosis when I was 6, and I was shipped off to boarding school by my paternal relatives. By the time I was reunited with Mum, she was divorced again and we relocated to London where I went to day school. All of this upheaval taught me resilience and independence.

Mum gave me two shillings a day for the bus and food, but I’d usually cycle, skip lunch and buy cigarettes instead. I was good at school but refused to do my homework, so the headmaster told Mum I was wasting her time and money and I left with no qualifications. So what followed flunking out of school? Mum had an uncle in Rhodesia, and he sent two sea passages for us.

You didn’t travel 6000 miles in those days for a h.

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